In photography, there is often a misrepresentation of the subject, both intentionally and unintentionally, caused by subconscious opinions and higher authorities. Generally, the photographer has the power of what the images look like and how they are used. Words and settings can be used to warp what the subject is like or presenting. The photographer may have a brief to fit in which they need to present the subject in this way, if it is for a client, they would have to meet the requirements which sometimes the subject isn’t aware of. The order of authority would go from the client/boss, to the photographer and the subject has the least input in how images of them are being used. It can be caused by something simple such as identifying the wrong person or place, or as large as using the image for a completely different story.

Staged photographs can be directly linked to misrepresentation. The boundary between staging an image, and posing a documentary image is a fine one, with people wanting the ‘perfect image’ they often choose to ignore the ethical values or background to the image. Staging can include fixing a location that isn’t true to the nature of the story eg. changing where the orignal subject was found or lives, using people to act as others, such as a normal person pretending to be homeless or a refugee to get the right shot. It is often used in propaganda for advertising.

Having collaborative or participatory projects can help remove this as the subject has more to say on how the images are used or how they look. It could be said that is creates a truer project, as the subjects own opinions are being partly shown through the images.


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